Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Expand Your Learning: Follow Conference Hashtags

It is frustrating for me when people readily dismiss Twitter as a place where people only share what they had for breakfast and their latest celebrity crush. Twitter, in fact, is the best professional development tool that we have available if we use it properly. Using the service for growth means not only following the right people -- people, like fellow educators or other professionals, who share things that add value to what you do -- but also in following the right events.

Before Twitter if I was a a conference I agonized over what sessions to attend, always keenly aware that if I attended a session I was making the conscious decision to NOT attend other sectionals, and that I would be missing out on the learning that takes place there. No more! With Twitter, most conferences have a hashtag (such as #iste2014 for the most recent conference for the International Society of Technology in Education). Fellow attendees are invariably tweeting from their sessions, using the hashtag. If one wants to find out what is being shared at other sectional offerings, one can simply enter the hashtag in the Twitter search box and all tweets with that hashtag will  appear. It is like an internal curating and organization method for the vast amount of posts.

This is not only a way to follow events within an event you are attending. It is also a way to follow events from a distance and engage in the learning and conversations from those events as well. This morning I was following the learning of the Michigan District administrators, meeting at Higgins Lake, MI. Their designated hashtag is #Higgins14, meaning that I could track their work from a distance, and even participate if desired. Here is a quick look at some of what they are sharing:

I've heard some educators say, "I can't afford to be on Twitter." From my perspective, if one seeks to be a growing, relevant educator, you can't afford NOT to be on Twitter and using tools, such as hashtags, to organize your learning.

If you need help in understanding or using Twitter to your professional benefit, contact me here and I will do my best to help you learn and grow with the service.

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